The Crestone Eagle • December, 2020

Governor calls special legislative session for COVID relief

by Lisa Cyriacks

Governor Jared Polis and the Colorado General Assembly have announced a special session with the intent of passing a State stimulus package to provide more relief to those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The special session will take place after the Thanksgiving holiday and before lawmakers return on January 13, 2021 for their regular lawmaking term. Capitol leaders feel they must act now to get money out to businesses and individuals that need it—especially given that new, more restrictive, COVID regulations have been implemented in many counties, if not the entire state.

Lawmakers expect to have roughly $220 million to allocate as part of the special session’s stimulus package, with areas of focus including housing, childcare, small business relief, education and broadband access.

In October, Polis issued an executive order to send $375 stimulus checks to people making less than $52,000 who are receiving unemployment benefits. About 435,000 people are expected to receive the checks in early December at a cost of $168 million to the State.

The first actions taken in special session would include sales tax relief for restaurants and bars hit hard by capacity limits; an additional $50 million in rental and mortgage payment assistance for tenants and landlords; and $50 million in payments to early childhood centers pinched by the

coronavirus pandemic.

Colorado leaders have been waiting on a new federal stimulus to help individuals and businesses, but it hasn’t come and there’s no indication of a new round in the offing.

Unlike the federal government, Colorado cannot spend money it doesn’t have, and State budget officials and elected leaders have lately been blunt about how relatively powerless they feel to keep Colorado families and businesses facing economic hardship afloat.

“We cannot possibly do what the federal government can do,” Polis said Tuesday,

The Democrats who run both chambers of the Capitol have been in talks with Polis since last month on the possibility of a special session. It will be attended by members of the current legislature, not those newly elected who have yet to be sworn in.